I'm planning my first experience solo travelling through mainland SE Asia next year for two months (9 weeks) after the school year is finished. The plan right now is to travel through Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam. When I originally thought up this plan, it seemed like it would be plenty of time to take in all four countries but after reading many posts and advice that has been given on the forums, I'm starting to wonder if I should maybe cut the trip down to 3 countries. Possibly only Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia? Or is 9 weeks plenty of time to enjoy all four?
#1 TravelTim1 has been a member since 14/7/2013. Posts: 2
Nine weeks would be enough time to visit all four countries you've mentioned, and you'd even have time to get deeper than just a few highlights. But as you've already noted, most experienced travellers on this site would encourage you to try to visit fewer places simply because every time you move around you spend time and money you could have spent doing something more fun and rewarding - and crossing international borders can really take up more time than you think it should.
We had a similar length trip (8+ weeks) back in 2010 and ultimately decided to drop Vietnam and just visit Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia. You'd be surprised just how fast the time goes.
You might want to base your decision on your own style and preferences too. What types of things do you like to see and do? Is spending a week lazing on a beach heaven or a boring hell for you? Do you have plenty of funds or will you be trying to stretch out your money? What kind of a rough itinerary did you have in mind so far?
No matter what you decide, good on you for taking that time for yourself. It should be great. Please be sure to make lots of posts and reviews while you are out there. Cheers.
Good advice by exacto there.
Your question is a common one and I'd generally say if you're going to consider dropping one, it should be Vietnam. I say this because Cambodia lends itself to a short trip (in a week you could take in the absolute highlights Angkor and Phnom Penh ) while a tour of Vietnam's "best hits" will require double that. While travel in Laos can also be time consuming, it fits better with Thailand and Cambodia geographically.
Also, don't underestimate how much time Thailand will soak up (and deservedly so) - some of those islands can by itinerary busters!
Lastly, look into short-haul regional flights to save time. Yes they'll cost you a bit more cash, but they can save you considerable amounts of time.
In summary, yes, four countries is doable in nine weeks, though if it was me, I'd drop Vietnam. If you decide to stick with it you'll want to plan ahead and probably consider making some regional flights to save you some time.
#3 somtam2000 has been a member since 21/1/2004. Location: Indonesia. Posts: 7,767
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Thanks very much to both of you for the advice! I think I might just go with the three countries after all; I think it will make the trip much more laid back and give me less of a schedule to stick to. I definitely don't want to feel pressed for time during a vacation! Also I think that since I don't have an unlimited amount of money, this could help me budget better.
Besides I'm sure this won't be my only time ever visiting SE Asia, I already know I'm going to love it! It is a year from now, so I'm not going to throw away my options.
I'll probably be posting a lot more as the trip gets nearer and I'll be sure to check in while out on the road!
#4 TravelTim1 has been a member since 14/7/2013. Posts: 2